NZ lodge owner charged with assaulting 16 guests

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New Zealand Lodge Owner Accused Of Drugging 16 Men

SYDNEY (AP) - The owner of a New Zealand tourist lodge has been charged with drugging and sexually assaulting 16 guests, most of whom were from overseas, police said Wednesday.

Michael Harris, 56, who owns the Main Street Lodge in the North Island town of Kaitaia, was charged with 39 offenses against 16 men, including indecent assault, aggravated wounding related to allegedly drugging the men and making intimate visual recordings, police said in a statement.

The men were mostly overseas tourists between ages 18 and 25 who stayed in the lodge owner's home over the past two and a half years. The lodge has a hostel and hotel rooms and also offers longer-term accommodation in the owner's residence.

Police said they were looking to speak with anyone who had stayed at the lodge in the past few years to determine whether there were other potential victims.

"These victims are unlikely to know that something has happened to them, although they may have suspicions," Detective Senior Sgt. Rhys Johnston said in a statement. "This is an ongoing investigation and we have a lot of work ahead to assess evidence and establish if there are further victims we are not yet aware of."

Harris is in custody and will appear in Kaitaia District Court next week.

A Main Street Lodge employee who would not give his name said he did not know if Harris had an attorney and declined to comment on the allegations.
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